Here we feature an excerpt from the Rocky Mountain Institute's recent blog "Changing Lives with Solar Microgrids". Read the full article here.
EarthSpark began working in Haiti providing people with small solar home systems and solar lanterns, products that are life-changing tools for people without access to grid electricity. But the organization soon realized that those aren’t the solutions to which everyone aspires. “To truly unlock economic opportunity, people need access to higher levels of electricity than what a solar home system can provide,” Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International, told RMI.
“With the right conditions minigrids can provide energy services in a low-cost sweet spot between small levels of energy consumption that can be effectively served by small stand-alone solar systems and traditional grid extension,” according to Eric Wanless, a principal in RMI’s international practice leading the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development initiative. EarthSpark isn’t the only group focusing on microgrids. Husk Power has brought electricity to 200,000 people in the highly unelectrified state of Bihar in India, using rice husks to fuel microgrids; Powerhive, Devergy, and PowerGen are bringing power to East Africa with solar microgrids; and Gham Power is building solar microgrids in rural Nepal.
A microgrid can give residences and businesses enough power to run motors, process agricultural products, and power freezers. Plus, much of the electricity used by rural industry is seasonal, such as an agricultural mill, which is used during harvest season and on market days. “Building an energy system just for that mill would mean an asset that is under-utilized much of the time,” adds Archambault. “But with a microgrid, you can use that capacity for other uses, and everyone buys down the cost for everyone else. We like to say our system is powerful enough to energize industry, and progressive enough to serve every single customer.”
Read the full article on RMI's blog here.